Travels in Norway – Reflections of the Northern Lights

January 13, 2014

Since returning from Norway in early December a great deal of interest has been shown in the Northern Lights phenomenon.  Last week the BBC produced a fantastic programme, “Stargazing Live,” during which presenters used a plane to fly above the clouds to broadcast some awesome pictures.  Travelling below the cloud cover by land or by ship as I did is very much hit and miss as clear skies are needed to see them but it is an adventure none the less.

 What I saw was similar to the picture below.  I did not see the bright greens, pinks or reds for which the Aurora Borealis is renowned.  It was more of a creamy white in appearance.

Northern Lights

A View of the Northern Lights

I did see some faint tinges of green and I have heard that the colours come out better when photographed as the long exposures required for them to show up are more sensitive than the human eye.  However, I do wish I spent more time admiring them with the naked eye rather than fiddling with the exposure settings on my digital camera as being there underneath them was a great experience in itself.

 The BBC and its stargazing programme must be congratulated for showing us how beautiful the universe really is.  The excitement of the participants was infectious and is sufficient inspiration to keep me travelling to experience more of the sights, sounds, smells, touches and tastes that surround our world.

 Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press.

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Book Review –A Hoxton Childhood by A.S Jasper

January 6, 2014

This is a true account of what life was like for a poor working class family a hundred years ago.  As 2014 begins thoughts of the First World War which began in 1914 looms large in the public conscience, but this book is not about the war but the people who scraped a living at home before it began, during its progress and shortly afterwards.  This is viewed through the eyes of a small boy who sees his mother battling with his drunken father to provide food and clothing for her children.

The father selfishly keeps most of the meager money he earns from a variety of lowly jobs (some illegal) while the rest of the family make do with the crumbs he leaves behind or the mother is able to filch from him or earn herself.  All the men come out badly in the book and it is the women who are the stars, keeping the family together insuring that they are brought up decently despite the hardships and the bad examples set by the men folk.  Drink and fisticuffs seem to be the chief ways that the men deal with the drudgery of their like but the mother copes with this heroically and sometimes gives as goods as she gets in defending her household.

This is probably the way many poor families existed in the days before the welfare state which may well be how they would cope now through the current recession should it not exist.  The story is well written and told but there is much there between the lines, which provide food for thought.  I have heard that there maybe plans to turn the narrative into a stage play and wish those involved in this task every success as our accounts of life a hundred years ago should not just be about the Great War but also of the poverty that existed among the people left at home.

Hoxton Childhood Cover

A Hoxton Childhood by A. S Jasper is published by Blinding Books and available in paperback for £5.99.

Keith Jahans
Editor, Peatmore Press